America loves Israel. This love is unconditional, perhaps even eternal, and is expressed in countless ways. Presidents come and go, politicians live and die, and people spend their lives, but the love outlasts them all. Those who try to explain America’s unflinching support for Israel will ache and strain to see it change, somehow, or even claim it is lessening. Some of these people even love America “the land of the cool and easy” and have no qualms about Uncle Sam, except they just can’t seem to figure out why America supports Israel, through thick and thin.
Since the recent American elections, the question of why America loves Israel has once again been raised in many quarters. Arabs and Muslims in America pinned their hopes on George W. Bush and, in an unprecedented move toward electoral unity, block-voted for Bush. Some groups even cited possibilities for a new foreign policy as a key reason for their choice, including a just resolution of the Palestine problem. Similarly, Bush’s election was applauded in many parts of the Muslim world, especially in the Gulf, where the Bush legacy is strongest.
Eight years of Clintonian politics seems to have been a factor in the support for Bush. Besides his infamous corruption, Clinton was notorious for stacking his cabinet and key positions with Zionist Jews. In fact, there were more Jews in Clinton’s government than in any other time in American history. This was exacerbated by Gore’s selection of a Zionist vice president, Joe Lieberman. Often seen in skullcaps pandering to Jews in public gatherings, both Clinton and Gore seemed to have turned US foreign policy over to the Zionists. While this is an expression of America’s love for Israel, it is not an explanation.
Now that new American secretary of state Colin Powell is publicly cosying up to the Butcher of Beirut, Ariel Sharon, the new Zionist prime minister, and with Bush vowing to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, new questions have been raised. While the Republicans have at times stood up to the Zionists, as for example when George Bush senior challenged then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir on US loan guarantees in the late 1980s, and while it is true that the Democrats have acted like a branch of the Israeli government, the real reasons for America’s unflinching love and support for Israel are to be found primarily outside the narrow corridors of American party politics.
The American dissident anti-establishment movement perhaps can offer some clues. American leftists and radicals such as Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky try to explain the love of Israel in material terms, sometimes citing cold war concerns. Critics of this ilk may develop their analysis by including things like the influence of the infamous Zionist lobby in Washington, peppered with references to racism against Arabs or Christian guilt toward Jews for the alleged holocaust.
Although concerns about the Zionist lobby were first noted by leftist Jews in the US in the 1970s, and picked up by the ‘pro-Arab’ US state department cadres, it is now the Arab media that have taken after the lobby with a vengeance. Countless programs on satellite TV, like the American-backed al-Jazeerah channel in Qatar, rant and rave about the dreaded ‘looby sihyooni.’ Arab ‘intellectuals’ can be seen screaming at eachother about the seeming omnipotence of the lobby, bewailing the failure of Muslims and Arabs to have their own ‘pro-Arab’ lobby in Washington. But some analysis of the Israel-America relationship is more nuanced, and warns against ascribing too much power to the Zionist lobby. Instead, so this line of thinking goes, we should be looking toward American corporate globalization for the recent anti-Muslim tirades in the Western media, and Israel is staunchly backed because it is supportive of the Western reign of globalization in the region. Some even say that Israel is slated to become the next Singapore or Switzerland.
There is no doubt that the US and Israel agree on issues such as the globalization of US corporations, but there are also deeper reasons for the love affair. While conflict in the region is constantly enriching Western defense contractors selling their wares to Arabs, this is irrelevant since the Arabs have not used their weapons against Israel in any meaningful way since the 1970s. In the Gulf, recently, there was a mega-weapons fair and the rich Arabs could be seen gleefully buying their latest toys, while one Gulf ruler boldly declared that the Arabs should support the Palestinians, but not with arms. Instead, rich Arabs built more hospitals to mop up after the Zionist atrocities, leaving the Palestinians defenseless and the defense contractors richer. While this might explain the love of money in America, and perhaps the love of war and violence, it does little to explain the love of Israel.
The answer is much simpler than all of this. America is Israel. America is an older and larger Israel, perhaps even a parent, and like any parent it loves its child. Look at American history. Puritans saw themselves as God’s ‘chosen people,’ who justified slaughtering Indians as part of a biblical decree. American missionaries saw America as ‘Zion on the hill,’ pledged by ‘Providence’ to impose its form of Christianity on the world, east and west. American racism is rooted in the Jewish idea of racial supremacy, while the raging will to convert all others is rooted in a narrow vision of Christianity unique to America. This version of Christianity has always looked toward Jerusalem as its true homeland and spiritual center. If Israel fails, it means admitting the failure of the deepest passions of America and the West.
Two central ideologies have deep roots in the West, and America brought them to their fullest expression. The first, known as ‘manifest destiny,’ is a Jewish idea that a chosen people must rule all others, and the other, known as ‘millenarianism,’ pins its hopes on liberating Jerusalem of ‘pagans’ in order to bring about the true millennium, which is not about the year 2000, but about the reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years. The secular version of this ideology sees America as replacing Christ; in either case, America must rule and Israel is its saving grace.
The only thing that might pry the two apart is an ongoing intifada, coupled by boycotts and civil disobedience in the world targeted at the US, similar to what erupted in the weeks after the intifada, forcing the US to close its embassies. Meanwhile, the US economy and its political system will probably take further downturns in the next few years. If Israel cannot stamp out the intifada soon, (which is beginning to turn world opinion against it once again), and as economic and political times get harder in the US, America can be forced to rethink its support. This will not happen by voting for one candidate or another in an election, or by writing letters to congressman; it will happen in the streets of the cities of the world, because of the intifada in Palestine, and it will happen in the greed-ridden hearts of American arrogant powers who have finally overstepped their imperial privilege of plundering the planet. As America hits tougher times, with the world reconfiguring itself around different poles of power, and with ongoing intifadas and boycotts, Israel may come to be seen as a liability. Indeed, this has already begun to happen, but is not seriously enough to have any effect yet. However, if it continues, it will, and that is why the Zionists are so frantically pulling every string they can to make some room in order to crush the intifada as soon as possible, and to find a way to placate the PLO and achieve a final sellout.
If this happens, modern Israel will be gone within about ten years. But by itself, this is still not enough, since the ideologies of manifest destiny and millenarianism are more stubborn than the emerging economic or political realities. Even if the American political system and economy are in a shambles, the shared belief in millenarianism will not abate any time in the near future. It is part and parcel of the American identity, fused with missionary fervor and bolstered by a feeling of world superiority. This will be the enduring legacy of the sordid America-Israel affair, even after their material manifestations as states and systems have long since crumbled or been dismantled.